China denies Hong Kong port visit for U.S. navy ship: WSJ

FILE PHOTO: A combined formation of aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 pass in formation above the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in the Philippine Sea on June 18, 2016. Courtesy Steve Smith/U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

Thomson Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has denied a request for a U.S. warship to visit Hong Kong next month, the Wall Street Journal said on Tuesday, amid rising tension between Beijing and Washington over trade and a U.S. decision to sanction the Asian nation's military.

Citing unnamed U.S. military officials, the paper said the amphibious assault ship Wasp had been due to make a port call in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong.

The U.S. consulate in the former British colony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang did not directly answer a question on whether China had denied the request.

"For requests for U.S. military ships to visit Hong Kong, China has always carried out approvals case by case, in accordance with the principle of sovereignty and the detailed situation," he told reporters, without elaborating.

In 2016, at a time of heightened tension over its territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea, China denied a request for a U.S. carrier strike group led by the John C. Stennis to visit Hong Kong.

On Saturday, China summoned the U.S. ambassador in Beijing and postponed joint military talks in protest against a U.S. decision to sanction a Chinese military agency and its director for buying Russian fighter jets and a surface-to-air missile system.

China and the United States are also embroiled in an increasingly bitter trade war.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Greg Torode in Hong Kong)

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